I'm amazed at how quietly the Federal Communications Commission recently selected the agency's first Director of Health Care Initiatives, Matthew Quinn. To say that it was without fanfare would be an understatement. There wasn't even a press release announcing that Quinn was chosen for the new position. You can imagine the surprise last week for many in the audience when he spoke before the Care Continuum Alliance Capitol Caucus in Washington in his official capacity.
Bringing Quinn into this new role at FCC in this stealth fashion is an odd way for the agency to act given his important responsibilities and the public nature of the agency's search for a qualified job candidate. Quinn's selection was anti-climactic and regrettable for an agency that claims that it has put a priority on seizing the tremendous opportunities of mobile healthcare technologies.
The agency's job description states that the role of the Director of Health Care Initiatives is to "lead the agency's efforts in facilitating and promoting communications technologies and services that improve the quality of health care for all citizens and help reduce health care costs; facilitating the availability of medical devices that use spectrum; and ensuring hospitals and other health care facilities have required connectivity." That's a big job, to be sure.
However, we all take the FCC at its word when the agency says it wants to play a leadership role in advancing mHealth adoption. Quinn is now ostensibly the FCC's leader and the central point of contact to external groups on all health-related issues. As the Director of Health Care Initiatives, he will serve for a maximum of four years--which is the exact timeframe the agency has set out for meeting its ambitious goals.
Last year, the mHealth Task Force convened by the FCC released its final report which established an overarching goal that "by 2017 mHealth, wireless health and e‐Care solutions will be routinely available as part of best practices for medical care." If this lofty goal is to become reality and mHealth is to improve the quality of care and lower healthcare costs in this country, Quinn will need to step up. He appears to have the right mix of public and private sector health experience to help remove the barriers to harnessing this technology for the greater good.